Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Toddler Activities: I am a Star

By Deborah Pace Rowley

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon!) In our church we are encouraged to hold a weekly family night. On Monday nights we get together and play games, eat treats and have a short lesson. During lesson time we are trying to teach our kids the values that are important to us. These values can be as simple as: in our family we serve others and we respect those who are different.

It is easier to think of lesson topics when you are teaching teenagers and you can see the areas of focus that you need to work on staring you in the face!! Hard work. Respect for your elders. Prepare for college. Delay gratification etc. etc. etc.  It is sometimes harder to think about what to teach your sweet little ones who are almost perfect in every way. (At least we think Anniston is!) I have created a book of family night lesson ideas for toddlers. You don't need to be a member of our faith to use and enjoy these lessons. They can be used during a play group, a church nursery class, or just for a fun learning time with Mom.

The title of the book is Family Night for Little Tikes and I will be sharing lesson ideas from the book over the next several weeks. This first lesson is called "I am a Star." The goal of this lesson is to teach your child how special he or she is to you.

I am a Star  
*Start by announcing that you have a special person at family home evening. Give clues so that family members can guess. Examples: This person’s favorite color is red. This person is 3 years old. This person likes to wear a baseball shirt. 
*When you have guessed who it is, give that child a special hat to wear. You could make a paper crown or a paper band with a big star glued on the front. 
*Let your child know that this is a special night to honor him. 
*Take turns telling what you love about your child and all the things a that are special about him while the child stands in the center of the room or on a sturdy chair. 
*Let your child pick his favorite book to read, his favorite song to sing, and his favorite game to play. 
*Arrange beforehand to serve your child’s favorite treat for refreshments. 
*Tell your child how lucky you feel to have him in your life. 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Elementary Activities: Have You Signed Up for the Hogwarts Summer Fun Challenge Yet?

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

Several people have emailed asking for more details about our summer fun challenge. So here it is!

Our Hogwarts Summer School has 13 different classes. Each week you will receive two different activity ideas for each class. Then you get to choose which classes and activities you want to do. Here is a list of the classes and the types of activities that you will receive for each class.

Potions- Activities baking in the kitchen
Charms- Casting a spell on others through random acts of kindness
Arithmancy- Practicing with math facts, numbers, counting etc. 
Astrology- Stargazing and nighttime activities
Divination- Setting goals for the future
Transfiguration- Crafts, recycled art projects etc. 
History of Magic- Reading picture books, chapter books etc. 
Care of Magical Creatures- Caring for pets or younger siblings
Muggle Studies- Chores around the house
Herbology- Nature activities and gardening
Ancient Runes- Writing Activities
Quidditch- Outdoor sports and games
Defense Against the Dark Arts- Activities in your faith/religious tradition

Students like Ron (We love you Ron!) will just manage to get a few activities done in a week. Those students who complete 5 activities a week (or 40 total over the 8 weeks) will receive a Hogwarts Summer School Completion Certificate.

Students like Harry (Go Harry!) will mange to get a few more activities done in a week. The students who complete 10 activities a week (or 80 total over the course of the summer) will receive a certificate and a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans!

Students like Hermione (She makes the rest of us look bad!) will complete every activity listed and probably a few more that aren't even on the list. (If he or she has a time turner!) The students with the highest point total in each house will receive a handmade wizard wand, Bertie Botts Beans and a certificate. All the prizes will be shipped totally free of charge.

As you can see, your level of participation is totally up to you. Our goal is to help our kids be busy, happy and productive all summer long while limiting their TV and video game time. If you feel like this program would work for your family, sign up today.

All you need to do to sign up is send the names and ages of the children who would like to participate to:
That is Hogwarts Summer Fun Challenge @ gmail.com (all lower case with no spaces)

We have a few spaces left so sign up today! This is going to be so much fun! 
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Qq}

By Tiffany Rudd
Snack Ideas:
      * Quesadillas! You can do classic cheese or mix it up with PB&J or these yummy looking Peanut Butter, Strawberry & Banana Quesadillas.
Favorite Books:
      * The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
      * I'm as Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
      * Q-Tip Painting: My preschoolers always love painting, but there is something about using different objects as "paint brushes" that makes it even more fun. All you need are q-tips and paint for this fun activity.
      * Queen Puppets: I love the idea of using handprints to create these super cute queen puppets! I found these on Ceres Childcare.
      * Paper Quilts: I love this quilt idea over at Creative Preschool Resources. Perfect for reviewing squares too. 
      * Quarter Rubbing: This is such a great way to introduce the quarter coin! Sorry I don't have a source to credit. I found this cute activity on pinterest, but the link leads nowhere. 
       * Play the Quick or Quiet Game: I don't have a picture to go along with this one, but my preschoolers loved playing this simple game. In our game, we tried to do different activities either quickly or quietly. One child was asked to pick an activity and another the adjective. Have you ever tried to clap quietly or tip-toe quickly? Super fun! :)

       * Qq is for Quilt Activities: Confessions of a Homeschooler has a cute quilt unit with lots of great printable activities. I love this letter hunt worksheet. 
      * Click on the photos below to print out your Qq Flash Card and Writing Practice Worksheet.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teenage Activities: Message to the World

By Deborah Pace Rowley

If you read my post yesterday, you will remember that I encouraged kids to write their message to the world. My 18-year-old daughter wrote the following messages for the rest of her family. I just had to share her beautiful words.

 I found this one on my mirror this morning.

This is a movie quote that my kids often share with each other. Don't ask me which movie! As the Mom, I'm not in on the joke.

Katie wants to frame the quote above since it was made just for her.


I love these more than all the memes I see on Facebook. Perhaps you need this message today.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Toddler Activities: Earth Day Photos

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

This Earth Day Photo Shoot was inspired by the sign held by Martin Richard, the 8-year-old victim of the Boston Marathon bombings. I was so touched by his call for peace. There is something so powerful about an innocent messenger of truth. A child's simple words can resonate far beyond an adult's eloquent speeches. Their words are so simple and so true.

I had planned our outdoor photo shoot with Anniston today. Unfortunately the weather in Utah didn't cooperate. It was so windy and cold. It was all Anniston could do to hold the signs and stand there shivering. She was such a good sport and reminded me how much I love her.

I had hoped the message of these signs would remind us as parents to be more patient with our precious children. We do need to nurture and care for the earth. But we also need to nurture and care for our little ones. Earth Day can be a reminder to slow down, think before we act, consider our valuable resources, and use them more wisely. This is also good advice as we raise our children. 

If you want to add some sweet signs to a spring photo shoot you can find all the signs I created here
(Note: I should have zoomed in with the camera to get a close-up of Anniston so we could read her signs. But I wasn't about to make her go back outside again!) 

I think it would be even more meaningful to have your child write a message to the world of his or her own. Happy Earth Day. May peace be given to the family of sweet, innocent Martin and all those who suffer around this world. 

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Elementary Activities: Keep Your Kids Learning and Having Fun This Summer

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Have you started to think about summer yet? I only have 5 weeks left of school. (Not that I am counting down the days!) Already I am thinking about things I can do with my kids this summer. I don't know about you, but I always start out with the best ideas but by the end of July, things have deteriorated to the point that I feel like throwing out all the electronics and media equipment and banishing the kids from the house during the hours of 9 to 5! That might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. How do you keep your kids busy, active, and learning all summer long? What do you do to avoid the inevitable summer brain drain? How do you limit screen time in your house during the long summer break?

If you have the perfect answer to all those questions, I want to talk to you! If you are still struggling in this area like I am, I have a suggestion. Sign your kids up today for our Hogwarts Summer Fun Challenge!

I am super excited about this program that my sister and I have created. Tiff has learned from running her healthy challenge at Feel Great in Eight how powerful competition can be to motivate people to make good choices. Suddenly it dawned on us.... kids are the same way! They love earning points, competing against others and seeing their progress as they work towards goals. This was the perfect solution to our problem. Our kids needed a challenge to help them learn and stay active and achieving their goals in the summer. But what should we call it? What could be our theme? For two families of Harry Potter fanatics the answer was clear. Where would everyone love to go to Summer School? Hogwarts!

When your kids (ages 3 to 13) sign up for this FREE 8 week challenge, they will be placed in one of the four houses. Then they will be able to earn points for doing activities for each of their Hogwarts Summer Classes. They will concoct their own ice cream flavor in Potions, learn to find a star constellation in the night sky in Astronomy, and play a fun game with hula hoops in Quidditch.

Each week they will receive a new list of options for each class. Then at the end of the week, they will report their scores for how many of the activities they completed. Their scores will be added to the rest of the scores in their house and the competition for the house cup will be on! Everyone who completes a minimum of 80 activities in the eight weeks (10 a week) will receive a Hogwarts Summer School Completion Certificate and a box of Official Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. In addition, the contestants with the highest points in each house will win a handmade wizard wand. All prizes will be mailed free of charge.

Enrollment is limited so sign up for this fun summer challenge today. The competition will begin on June 10th and will end on August 10th, skipping one week for the 4th of July.

All you need to do to enroll is send an email with the names and ages of each child that would like to enter to:

Again, just email us the names and ages of the kids that would like to participate to:
Hogwarts Summer Fun Challenge @ gmail.com (All one word-- lower case, of course)

We will respond right away to let you know you have been admitted. Then at the end of May you will receive information about the Sorting Hat Quiz that will place you in the right house and instructions about how to begin. This challenge is going to be so much fun! On the blog we will include posts about activities we do as part of our Hogwarts challenge as well as giving you and your kids encouragement to continue. Please pass on this information to any of your friends and family members who might like to join in the challenge with you. You could take turns hosting a neighborhood day where you complete several of the activities together!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Pp}

By Tiffany Rudd
Snack Ideas:
      * Freshly Popped Popcorn! Every year one of the snacks my students remember the most is popcorn for the letter Pp. They remember it, not because it is new or unusual, but because I take the lid off my electric air popper and let them enjoy a popcorn volcano. If you don't have one already, keep your eye out at the DI or Good Will. They often have poppers without lids for a few dollars. I wish you could hear the laughter behind this photo - so much fun!
      * Pig Pancakes: This one goes perfectly with one of my favorite books - If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
Favorite Books:
      * If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
      * Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
      * Pig Paper Plate Masks: How cute are these pig masks over at ready-set-read?! They'd be so fun with your pig pancakes. :)
      * Ping Pong Art: I'm dying to try this fun art project from Play Based Learning! I've used marbles before, but the light ping pong balls would make this activity even more fun. 
      * Glitter Peacocks: These super cute glitter peacocks are made with coffee filters and are so super cute. Find the instructions at Tippytoe Crafts.
       * Sight Word Pancakes: I love-love this idea from Playdough to Plato. So simple to put together and so much fun. I'm definitely going to create a set for Brooklyn asap.
     * Pound the Sound: This is a cute and fun way to practice letter sounds from Happy Brown House. My kiddos would love this!
        * Princess Preschool Activities: Brooklyn went crazy over these princess activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler. She has free printable puzzles, sorting cards, coloring pages, and even lacing cards.
         * Number Punch: I did this activity from Happy Brown House with Cameron and Brooklyn this week and it was a huge hit. I used just plain numbers with Brooklyn (5), but wrote addition problems for Cameron (7) and it was a huge hit. 
      * Click on the photos below to print out your Pp Flash Card and Writing Practice Worksheet.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Toddler Activities: Little Jack Horner

By Deborah Pace Rowley

You know I love using Nursery Rhymes with toddlers. Not only do they teach rhythm and rhyme, they are repetitive and they help to build a body of core knowledge that each child needs to know as they venture out into the larger world. When they start preschool and kindergarten, children familiar with lots of nursery rhymes and popular fairy tales will be able to say, "I remember that!" or "I know that one!" This is a huge boost to a young student's self-esteem. In the past we have featured activities for Humpty Dumpty and Hey Diddle Diddle. This activity is based around the rhyme of "Little Jack Horner." It is a great activity for teaching your toddler the names of fruits and their colors.

All you need for this activity is:
A few real or pretend fruits and vegetables, a flat basket, a brown paper bag and some scissors and tape.

I set my basket on top of the paper bag to measure its size. Then I cut an oval shape slightly larger than my basket.

After I cut out my shape, I cut two slits in the crust in an X shape. This is where your toddler will put his or her hand.

(Note: You might want to reinforce this opening with duct tape on the back side. Anniston kept thinking the pie was a present and she wanted to rip it open to find out what was inside!) Once I had a large enough opening cut out, I taped the brown paper to the top of the basket. I gathered it here and there to make it fit.

Once the pie is ready, you can start to play. Set your toddler in a corner with the pie and recite the poem.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a Corner
Eating his Christmas pie. 
He stuck in his thumb
And pulled out a plum
And said, 
What a Good Boy Am I!" 

Each time that you come to the line that says "Stuck in his thumb", have your child reach into the pie and pull out a fruit. Once you see the fruit, fill in the rest of the poem together. "And pulled out an orange!" Or "pulled out a banana!" Or "pulled out an apple!" and said, "What a good girl am I!"

You can also play a seek and find game with the pie. Have your child try to find the plum without looking. With each fruit that they pull out you can ask, "Is that a plum?" "No." "Let's look again." 

Help your child recognize each fruit by pointing out their colors. You are looking for a plum that is purple. Is this purple? A banana is yellow. Which one is a banana? Once you have finished playing with your pie, you could cut up the fruits and make a fruit salad for you and your toddler to enjoy together. Eat it in the corner on a real pie tin! 

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